“Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” is a satirical talking blues song by singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie. It was released as the title track to his 1967 debut album Alice’s Restaurant. In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant” The song was an inspiration for the 1969 film also named Alice’s restaurant.
About Alice’s Restaurant in brief
“Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” is a satirical talking blues song by singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie. It was released as the title track to his 1967 debut album Alice’s Restaurant. The song is a deadpan protest against the Vietnam War draft, in the form of a comically exaggerated but essentially true story from Guthrie’s own life. In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant” The song was an inspiration for the 1969 film also named Alice’s restaurant. The title refers to a restaurant owned by one of Guthrie’s friends, which plays no role in the story aside from being the subject of the chorus. The work has become Guthrie ‘s signature song and he has periodically rereleased it with updated lyrics. The track lasts 18 minutes and 34 seconds, occupying the entire A-side of the Alice’s Restaurant album. It has been described as a shaggy dog story, with a rambling and circuitous telling with unimportant details. Guthrie refers to the incident as a \”massacree\”, a colloquialism originating in the Ozark Mountains that describes \”an event so wildly and improbably and baroquely messed up that the results are almost impossible to believe\”. It is a corruption of the word massacre, but carries a much lighter and more sarcastic connotation, rather than describing anything involving actual death. It is based on a true story about Guthrie and a friend who were arrested and convicted of dumping trash illegally, which later leads to him being rejected by the draft board due to his criminal record of littering.
He tried various strategies to be found unfit for military service, including getting drunk before the night before he was over, and attempting to convince the psychiatrist that he was homicidal, which only earned him praise. He answered in the affirmative when asked whether he had ever been convicted of a crime, and was sent to the bench to file for a moral waiver. The other convicts were initially put off that he had been convicted for littering, but when he was accepted, they hung off him when he said he had accepted his conviction for it. The pair were briefly jailed, with Obie taking drastic precautions to prevent Guthrie from escaping or committing suicide. After a few hours, Alice bailed them out. After the pair were ordered to pick up the garbage, Guthrie then states that the littering incident was “not what I came to tell you about” and this one shifts to this one based at the Army Building on Whitehall Street in New York City. He then explains that his friend Alice owns a restaurant, but adds that “Alice’s restaurant” is the name of the song, not the business. The chorus, which is in the form of a jingle for the restaurant, begins “You can get anything you want at Alice “ and continuing with directions to it.